OCEANA denounces Denmark for blocking conservation of threatened Baltic species | Oceana

OCEANA denounces Denmark for blocking conservation of threatened Baltic species

Press Release Date: June 12, 2015

Location: Madrid, Spain


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

Baltic Sea states failed to agree on a key recommendation on the conservation of species that are threatened with extinction, at a HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting that closed yesterday in Tallinn, Estonia. Oceana is deeply disappointed that Denmark is blocking a recommendation that is supported by all of the other HELCOM Contracting Parties, by refusing to set deadlines on actions to protect species included on the HELCOM Red List.

“Denmark’s refusal to endorse these fundamental measures is shameful, particularly when they claim to be the forerunner of environmental protection in the Baltic. Contracting Parties made an enormous effort to compile the HELCOM Red List, and committed to develop conservation plans for species that they identified as being at risk of extinction,” stated Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “By stalling and attempting to water down these plans, Denmark is making a mockery of the entire process.”

The HELCOM Red List, which was finalised in 2013, was the culmination of four years of work and involved contributions from roughly 80 experts around the Baltic Sea. At the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in 2013, Contracting Parties agreed to develop a new recommendation on conservation plans for threatened species by 2015, following the completion of the Red List.

These regional plans and actions – such as using national legislation to protect species, identifying and protecting important habitats, and identifying specific actions to reduce threats – are crucial for restoring threatened species like the Baltic harbour porpoise, the porbeagle shark, and the small, habitat-forming crustacean Haploops tenuis. More broadly, the failure to approve these plans also puts at risk the regional-scale implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which has been criticised as being particularly weak in the Baltic Sea.

Further discussion on the recommendation will now be delayed until a HELCOM meeting in November.

The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, also known as the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), is an intergovernmental organisation that comprises the nine Baltic Sea countries and the European Union. Heads of Delegation meetings are usually held several times annually. Oceana participates in HELCOM meetings as an observer.